New Vergelegen red inspired by Cheval Blanc, St Emilion

I’M NOT SURE what to make of it, the new wine from Vergelegen – a Bordeaux-style red blend of Cabernet Franc (60%), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon called  ‘DNA’ that comes in a bottle with no mention of the producer on the front label which instead carries an illustration of winemaker Andre van Rensburg’s thumb-print. According to MD Don Tooth, it’s packaging designed to challenge perceptions that a 312-year-old estate has to be staid or boring. And as for the name, he says that while some may interpret it as the balance between the soil, the climate and the skill of the winemaker, others may feel that it speaks of the history, the environment and the people that give Vergelegen its character.

The maiden 2006 vintage is described as displaying a restrained sweetness to complement the complex flavours of dark berries, plum, liquorice and minerals. I can’t comment as I haven’t tasted the wine – there’s no mention of the new DNA on the Vergelegen website, although I’ve been assured by a spokesperson that it is available from the farm in Somerset West, for R175 a bottle.

Apparently certain retailers are selling it too, both locally as well as in export markets such as the UK where the winemaker told The Drinks Business that he’d followed the advice of Cheval Blanc cellarmaster Pierre Lurton when producing the DNA. “My love of Cheval Blanc is the inspiration for this,” said Van Rensburg, prompting comparisons with the top wines from Saint Emilion in Bordeaux, France.